A redress scheme for victims of historical child abuse must be part of the new Northern Ireland Programme for Government, abuse survivors told politicians today at Stormont.
Child abuse survivors from across Northern Ireland gathered at Parliament Buildings to reveal details of a model compensation scheme which they want the incoming Northern Ireland Executive to adopt.
They set out a detailed framework for an out-of-court redress scheme for survivors of institutional child abuse in Northern Ireland as an alternative to costly civil court proceedings. The report recommends two categories of compensation for survivors – a common experience payment for all former residents of homes where abuse was endemic and compensation for cases of individual abuse.
Margaret McGuckin of Survivors and Victims of Institutional Abuse (SAVIA) said:
“Abuse victims have waited their whole lives for an acknowledgement from the State for letting us down so badly when we were vulnerable kids. Part of that acknowledgement must be redress, to try to make up for what we suffered and what we lost.
“With the Abuse Inquiry about to conclude in the next couple of months, our government needs to plan now for the establishment of an appropriate redress scheme and that’s why we are making our call today for its inclusion in the Programme for Government.”
Jon McCourt of Survivors North West said:
“Politicians have told us that they want to ensure a victim-centred approach to dealing with historic institutional child abuse. Today victims come together to set out clearly the sort of redress scheme which we want to see put in place. Nothing will really make up for the damage done to us when we were children – awful damage which has led to an early grave for too many of our fellow residents and friends.
“The Inquiry chairperson, Sir Anthony Hart, has already announced that he will be recommending a financial compensation scheme when he reports in January 2017, but the time to plan and budget for that scheme is now when the Programme for Government is being agreed.”
The report, What Survivors Want: A Compensation Framework for Historic Abuses in Residential Institutions, was commissioned by the Panel of Experts on Redress, an independent initiative backed by Amnesty International and made up of survivor groups, individual survivors, academics, lawyers, human rights organisations, practitioners and national and international experts. Report authors are Professor Kathleen Mahoney (Ulster University and University of Calgary) and Professor Patricia Lundy (Ulster University).
The report draws on wide consultation with survivors, research and analysis of survivors’ views on redress. Recommendations have been informed by redress schemes in other jurisdictions and examples of good practice - what worked or did not work in other countries.
The Historic Institutional Abuse Inquiry, chaired by Sir Anthony Hart, is scheduled to report to the Executive in January, 2017. The Inquiry on November 4, 2015, after 157 days of public hearings and 392 witnesses, stated:
“… what we can now say is that from the evidence we have heard so far we will recommend that there should be a scheme to award financial compensation to those children who suffered abuse in children’s homes and other institutions in Northern Ireland between 1922 and 1995.”